Monday 24th March 2014
The advances we’ve seen in the past few years—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers, Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive.
How can we be so sure? Because the exponential, digital, and recombinant powers of the second machine age have made it possible for humanity to create two of the most important one-time events in our history: the emergence of real, useful artificial intelligence (AI) and the connection of most of the people on the planet via a common digital network.
Either of these advances alone would fundamentally change our growth prospects. When combined, they’re more important than anything since the Industrial Revolution, which forever transformed how physical work was done.
We can’t predict exactly what new insights, products, and solutions will arrive in the coming years, but we are fully confident that they’ll be impressive. The second machine age will be characterized by countless instances of machine intelligence and billions of interconnected brains working together to better understand and improve our world. It will make mockery out of all that came before. Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
Monday 24th March 2014
Trillions from autonomous cars?
No longer just the realm of science fiction. They are real and will be on roads sooner than you think.
Completely autonomous cars are set to be available before the end of the decade. Annual $1.3 trillion in savings in the United States (with over $5.6 trillions globally).
Accident savings (including injuries and fatalities) $563 billion per year. The authors refer to various reports, such as the World Health Organization estimated 1.24 million deaths globally due to vehicle accidents. – Colin Lewis
Friday 25th April 2014
The Biggest Event in Human History
Artificial intelligence (AI) research is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, a computer winning at Jeopardy!, and the digital personal assistants Siri, Google Now and Cortana are merely symptoms of an IT arms race fueled by unprecedented investments and building on an increasingly mature theoretical foundation. Such achievements will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring.
The potential benefits are huge; everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.
There are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organized in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. – Stephen Hawking
Saturday 3rd May 2014
Larry Page on Google+ #SelfDriving cars “We’re going to solve city streets!” http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2014/04/first-look-how-googles-self-driving-car-handles-city-streets/8977/ … – RobotEnomics
Monday 19th May 2014
In a recent blog post, Singularity University’s Brad Templeton (and consultant to the Google car team) said, “The past history of high-tech disruptions shows that very few of the incumbent leaders make it through to the other side. If I were one of the car makers who doesn’t even have a serious project on this, I would be very afraid right now.”
Templeton further notes that though Mercedes is furthest along of the major carmakers, its systems are still less capable than the Google car—in 2010 – Jason Dorrier
Monday 19th May 2014
5 Areas in Robotics that will Transform Society and Their Economic Impact
1- Drones: The next 5 years for drones is very promising. Expect to see drones becoming part of society’s information infrastructure as News agencies, TV companies, photographers, real estate agents, moviemakers, industrial giants, pizza deliveries, logistic companies, local governments, agriculture and others embrace drone technology
2 – Medical Prodcedures & Operations: IBM’s Watson may become the best diagnostician in the world and be greatly in demand contributing billions to IBM’s sales whilst potentially saving millions of lives. The global medical robotic systems market was worth $5.48 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2018, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.6% from 2012. Surgical robots are expected to enjoy the largest revenue share.
3 – Robotic Prosthetics & Exoskeletons: The economic market is currently quite small, somewhere around $100 to $150 million, however with the recent advances of prosthetics and exoskeletons it is expected to grow considerably to over $1.5 billion in the next 3 to 5 years and higher still thereafter
4 – Artificial Assistants: This domain has the largest possible early impact on the largest number of people. Artificial Intelligence pioneers such as Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweill have indicated anyone with a smartphone or tablet will be using ‘cognitive assistants’ by 2017
5 – Driverless Cars: Autonomous vehicles, including the iconic Google self-driving cars, will be on the road commercially before 2018. The long-term impact on society of self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles will be a radical change in how we commute. There will also likely be a sharp reduction in traffic accidents, the majority of which are caused by human error
Tuesday 25th November 2014
Tech’s Pace is Like a Dozen Gutenberg Moments Happening at the Same Time
Drilling down into the concepts and consequences of our exponential pace, Singularity University’s global ambassador and founding executive director, Salim Ismail, set the stage.
We’re at an inflection point, he said, where we are digitizing and augmenting the human experience with technology. That digitization is accelerating change. The question is: How can individuals and society, more generally, navigate it?
Five hundred years ago, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press freed information as never before. Ismail framed the current pace of technology as Gutenberg to the extreme, “We’re having about a dozen Gutenberg moments all at the same time.”
Ismail showed a video of someone riding in one of Google’s self-driving cars as it navigated an obstacle course at top speed. The rider is amazed and a little nervous—the video ends with him letting out a little involuntary scream. Today, the world is letting out a little collective Google scream. – Jason Dorrier
Monday 29th December 2014
Google wants its self-driving car ready in five years – Joseph B. White & Rolfe Winkler
Sunday 11th January 2015
The major automakers now see a world of completely self-driving cars.
At the International Consumer Electronics Show, the huge technology industry event in Las Vegas, Dieter Zetsche, the head of Mercedes-Benz cars and chairman of of Daimler AG, focused most of his keynote address on unveiling a fully autonomous prototype vehicle.
Raj Nair, the chief technical officer and global product chief at Ford, said that he expected some manufacturer to introduce a completely autonomous vehicle — one that requires zero human intervention — within five years. – Molly Wood
Saturday 24th January 2015
Dr. Kurzweil’s current predictions include:
1. self driving cars by 2017
2. personal assistant search engines by 2019
3. switching off our fat cells by 2020
4. full immersive virtual realities by 2023
5. 100 percent energy from solar by 2033
Dr. Kurzweil predicts that growth in the 3 areas — genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR) — will be the basis of the singularity. In his book The Singularity Is Near he says, “It will represent the culmination of the merger of our biological thinking and existence with our technology, resulting in a world that is still human but that transcends our biological roots. There will be no distinction, post singularity, between human and machine or between physical and virtual reality.” – Lucy Flores
Wednesday 11th February 2015
Behind much of the proliferation of AI startups are large companies such as Google, Microsoft Corp., and Amazon, which have quietly built up AI capabilities over the past decade to handle enormous sets of data and make predictions, like which ad someone is more likely to click on. Starting in the mid-2000s, the companies resurrected AI techniques developed in the 1980s, paired them with powerful computers and started making money.
Their efforts have resulted in products like Apple’s chirpy assistant Siri and Google’s self-driving cars. It has also spurred deal-making, with Facebook acquiring voice-recognition AI startup Wit.ai last month and Google buying DeepMind Technologies Ltd. in January 2014.
For Google, “the biggest thing will be artificial intelligence,” Chairman Eric Schmidt said last year in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang.
The AI boom has also been stoked by universities, which have noticed the commercial success of AI at places like Google and taken advantage of falling hardware costs to do more research and collaborate with closely held companies.
Last November, the University of California at San Francisco began working with Palo Alto, California-based MetaMind on two projects: one to spot prostate cancer and the other to predict what may happen to a patient after reaching a hospital’s intensive care unit so that staff can more quickly tailor their approach to the person – Jack Clark
Thursday 5th March 2015
By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways – Ray Kurzweil
Monday 6th April 2015
Driverless Car Travels 3,400 Miles from San Francisco to New York
Delphi’s driverless SQ5 covered almost 3,400 miles while crossing 15 states and the District of Columbia in nine days.
Delphi packed their SUV full of autonomous features that should make it into production in just a few years from now. The coast-to-coast trip was the longest automated drive in America so far, and with 99 percent of the distance covered in fully autonomous mode, Delphi calls it a success despite missing that crucial final percent – Mate Petrany
Monday 6th April 2015
Tesla Cars Will Start Self Driving This Summer
All Teslas will get an over-the-air update this summer, probably around June, allowing them to drive in “Autopilot” mode.
Musk did confirm that the Autopilot mode would be “technically capable of driving from parking lot to parking lot.” The car will also be allowed to drive itself when you summon it, and when you’re parking it in your garage.
It seems Autopilot will be disabled when you’re not doing freeway driving, which is by far the easiest aspect of autonomous vehicle activity.
Just to be clear, we’re not talking about some far-off future Tesla. We’re not talking about Google driverless car prototypes or government road tests. This is a car you can buy today, which will be given the ability to drive itself in a few months via the same setup that updates your iPhone. Automated automobiles, automatically activated – Chris Taylor
Monday 6th April 2015
Google’s Driverless Car Project
The head of its secretive Google X labs, Astro Teller, casually dropped in to his South by Southwest talk an intriguing nugget: the company could have offered freeway-driving driverless cars as much as two years ago, but preferred to build a vehicle from the ground up that could handle all driving — and didn’t have so much as a steering wheel.
“We could have taken a much easier path than the one we’ve chosen,” Teller told a packed crowd in an Austin ballroom.
“Two years ago we had a perfectly good freeway commute helper. Freeway driving was easy for our cars at that point. You stay in your lane, change lanes occasionally, and don’t hit the guy in front of you — there’s the occasional poor driver who makes things a little interesting, but the car had basically mastered freeways.”
And how about surface streets? We know the biggest problem is trying to figure out those unpredictable pedestrians who might step out into traffic at any moment, or do one of a hundred crazy things; we’ve long assumed that’s the sort of situation that only a human brain can handle. But according to Teller, Google X is mastering the most complex pedestrian situations, too – Chris Taylor
Monday 18th May 2015
Google’s Self-Driving Cars
With humans now at the wheel, more that 30,000 people die annually in auto collisions in the U.S. That’s a staggering number. People will accept an unacceptable status quo and be concerned about the things that are new – Bryant Walker Smith
It’s hard to know what’s really going on out on the streets unless you’re doing miles and miles of driving every day.
And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our fleet of 20+ self-driving vehicles and team of safety drivers, who’ve driven 1.7 million miles (manually and autonomously combined).
The cars have self-driven nearly a million of those miles, and we’re now averaging around 10,000 self-driven miles a week (a bit less than a typical American driver logs in a year), mostly on city streets.
Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident – Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Program
Monday 25th May 2015
On May 6, 2015, the first self driving truck hit the American road in the state of Nevada. Self-driving trucks are no longer the future. They are the present. They’re here.
Basically, the only real barrier to the immediate adoption of self-driven trucks is purely legal in nature, not technical or economic.
With self-driving vehicles currently only road legal in a few states, many more states need to follow suit unless autonomous vehicles are made legal at the national level. And Sergey Brin of Google has estimated this could happen as soon as 2017 – Scott Santens
Monday 25th May 2015
Apple and Uber are developing their own self-driving cars.
Tesla intends to release a software update next month that will turn on “autopilot” mode, immediately allowing all Tesla Model S drivers to be driven between“San Francisco and Seattle without the driver doing anything”, in Elon Musk’s own words.
Tesla-driven humans won’t be able to legally let their cars do all the driving, but who are we kidding? There will be Teslas driving themselves, saving lives in the process, and governments will need to catch up to make that driving legal.
This process is already here in 2015. So when will the process end? When will self-driving cars conquer our roads?
According to Morgan Stanley, complete autonomous capability will be here by 2022, followed by massive market penetration by 2026 and the cars we know and love today then entirely extinct in another 20 years thereafter – Scott Santens
Wedensday 28th October 2015
Tesla Autopilot 7.0 Unleashes Self-Driving Capabilities on Model S
Tesla’s use of an over-the-air update to create self-driving cars is one of the most important things ever to happen in technology.
Think of the foresight required. Hardware sensors had to be built years in advance to accommodate the future software. Think of the boldness. Establish facts on the ground – everywhere. Ship the future so fast they can’t ban it. The Network outruns the State.
There will be rearguard actions. Some states may try to ban it. Cross a border, car turns dumb. The future: now a geographical patchwork.
But on balance, Tesla has set a new precedent for permissionless innovation. And it can be applied to many other verticals outside cars. – Balaji S. Srinivasan
Regulators will not allow full autonomy for one to two years – maybe one to three years – after that. It depends on the particular market; in some markets the regulators will be more forward leaning than others. But in terms of when [full autonomy] will be technologically possible, I think three years.” – Elon Musk
I never thought I’d see autonomous automobiles driving on the freeways.
It wasn’t many years ago [they] put out a request to see who could build a car that could go across the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas from a place in Southern California, and several engineering teams across the country set out to do this. Nobody got more than about 300 yards before there was a problem.
Two years later, they made the full 25-mile trip across this desert track, which I thought was a huge achievement, and from that it was just a blink before they were driving on the freeways.” – Gordon Moore
Wedensday 28th October 2015
Self-Driving Cars Forecast to Reduce Accidents by 90 percent
May become greatest health achievement of the century
There are 2.5 million rear end collisions per year in the USA, accounting for 40% of all accidents. The only accidents the google self driving cars have been in are when they have been rear ended by a human driver.
The self driving cars will aways remain a safe distance behind the car in front because they don’t have an ego telling them they literally own the road. – Maria Meadowcroft
As The Atlantic reports, automated cars could save up to 300,000 lives per decade in the United States. Their reporting is based on this research paper by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which is filled with fascinating ways that self-driving cars will help us accident-prone humans by midcentury.
From the McKinsey report:
Today, car crashes have an enormous impact on the US economy. For every person killed in a motor-vehicle accident, 8 are hospitalized, and 100 are treated and released from emergency rooms. The overall annual cost of roadway crashes to the US economy was $212 billion in 2012. Taking that year as an example, advanced Advanced Driver Assisted Vehicles (ADVS) and Automated Vehicles (AVs) reducing accidents by up to 90 percent would have potentially saved about $190 billion.
AVs could free as much as 50 minutes a day for users, who will be able to spend traveling time working, relaxing, or accessing entertainment. The time saved by commuters every day might add up globally to a mind-blowing one billion hours.
McKinsey also points out that parking will become much easier, “reducing the need for parking space in the United States by more than 5.7 billion square meters,” and that the entire insurance model — based on human error — will shift to a one “focusing mainly on insuring car manufacturers from liabilities from technical failure of their AVs,” much like that for cruise lines or shipping companies. That might just lower your monthly insurance payment, too. – Molly Brown
Wednesday 28th October 2015
A Few Amazing Things We Have Today, That Back to the Future Missed
- Rapid, cheap whole genome sequencing and editing: We now have the ability to sequence a full human genome for under $1,000. The technology is developing at 3x the rate of Moore’s Law. We now have the ability to cheaply and precisely edit the genome with CRISPR/CAS 9. This will open up a new frontier of health and longevity that will have enormous implications on the future.
- 3D Printing: You can 3D print just about anything these days from 300 different materials — plastics, metals, concrete, chocolates, human cells. Complexity is free and scalability is inherent.
- Emergence of AI: We are in the early days of artificial intelligence. Tens of billions in capital are being poured into an AI “arms race” over the last decade. One fun recent example is Tesla’s “autopilot” software upgrade that just came out — their AI can drive you autonomously on the highway.
- On-Demand Economy: Amazon is working on same-day delivery mechanisms (possibly using drones). Uber has become ubiquitous as the simplest, most reliable way to get around.
- GPS: We really take for granted how good the GPS units in our phones really are. They receive up-to-the-second traffic data, route us to the shortest path, and even give us “street view” or satellite imagery to investigate what a place looks like before we get there.
- Private Spaceflight and Hyperloop: While Back to the Future flaunted flying DeLoreans, I’m proud of where we are with private spaceflight and the start of Hyperloop.
Saturday 21st November 2015
Tesla Autopilot Prevents a 45mph Head-On Collision – Seth Weintraub
“Was travelling a little under 45 mph. There was some rain, but roads were pretty dry. I was watching stopped traffic to my right.
I did not touch the brake. Car did all the work. Sadly no audio, because I had an Uber passenger and Washington has strict privacy laws about recording conversations.”
Saturday 21st November 2015
Death on the Roads
Road traffic accidents kill an estimated 1.25m people a year, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation.
Road accidents kill more men than women, and are the biggest killer of 15- to 29-year olds globally.
As well as the human toll, it is an economic burden, costing the global economy an estimated 3% of GDP, and up to 5% in the poor and middle-income countries where 90% of deaths occur but only half the world’s vehicles are driven.
In Thailand, which has the second-worst death rate, around three-quarters of people who die are motorcyclists. – The Economist Data Team
Saturday 21st November 2015
Tesla Self Drives Coast to Coast
Two new EV world records! – Carl Reese
Congrats on driving a Tesla from LA to NY in just over two days! – Elon Musk
The Model S crossed the country in record time for an electric vehicle—and drove itself nearly the entire way (from the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach California to East 31st Street in Manhattan).
Carl Reese, Deena Mastracci, and Alex Roy made the coast-to-coast drive in 57 hours and 48 minutes, a time that is still to be verified by an independent third party.
They had autopilot mode engaged 96 percent of the time, Reese says, using it at speeds around 90 mph. It eased the burden on the team, a big deal when you’re in a car for 57 hours straight.
It highlights how quickly and enthusiastically autonomous technology is likely to be adopted. – Alex Davies
Saturday 21st November 2015
The OS Fund
Oct 20th 2014: Today I am announcing the OS Fund — $100 million of my personal capital dedicated to investing in inventors and scientists who aim to benefit humanity through quantum leap discoveries at the operating system, or OS, level – Bryan Johnson
OS Fund Turns 1: A Year of Learning, Adventure, And Reward
One year ago, we launched OS Fund; what a fantastic year it’s been! It’s been uniquely satisfying to work alongside many of the world’s most capable entrepreneurs focusing on some of the most audacious projects on planet Earth.
Here’s a snapshot of what some of our portfolio companies are working to achieve:
- Cure age-related diseases and radically extend healthy human life to 100+ (Human Longevity)
- Make biology a predictable programming language (Ginkgo Bioworks & Synthetic Genomics)
- Create advanced artificial intelligence (Vicarious and Viv)
- Mine an asteroid (Planetary Resources)
- Reinvent transportation using autonomous vehicles (Matternet)
- Reimagine food using biology (Hampton Creek)
In less than 18 months, one of our first investments, Human Longevity, has become the world’s largest sequencer of human genomes, launched the newly imagined preventive care center Health Nucleus , and inked a deal with one of the largest insurance companies in the world (Discovery) for low-cost exome sequencing, redefining personalized health care.
This past summer, Matternet piloted its autonomous vehicles to deliver mail in Switzerland. Where else better to test your product than within one of the world’s most efficient postal services?
One particularly exciting area to us is synthetic biology, which uses organisms and designs from nature to engineer new tools. Synthetic biologists are the future of engineering and are creating solutions now in food, flavors, textiles, and cosmetics – working toward solutions in health and medicine, the environment, and more.
A good example of this industry at work is a company we invested in this year, Ginkgo Bioworks. Based in Boston, this company is working to make the programming of biology more predictable. Ginkgo signed several deals this year in fragrances and flavoring, and we are proud to support them and excited to see what comes next!
Taking a different approach to reinventing the food industry is Hampton Creek, a company we invested in last year. It’s been a remarkable year for Hampton Creek – with their Just Mayo and other products on the shelves everywhere from Dollar Tree to Whole Foods – and also a tumultuous one – with recent stories surfacing that they were a target of an ugly attack by the American Egg Board. Reinventing an entire industry is no small task, and we look forward to seeing what the next year brings for Hampton Creek. – Bryan Johnson
Tuesday 29th December 2015
The First Person to Hack the iPhone Built a Self-Driving Car… in His Garage.
This is a fantastic story on many levels.
From the self-motivated hacking to the visionary tech to the unwillingness to conform to corp interests to the “Bitcoin preferred here”
Lesson from tech history seems to be that no matter how astonishing a company may seem just wait til you see the guys working out of their garage. – Michael Goldstein
George Hotz is taking on Google and Tesla by himself.
George Hotz, the first person to hack the iPhone, says he built a self-driving car in a month. How did he do it? Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance went to Hotz’s home to find out…
Tuesday 29th March 2016
Self-Driving Car Startup Fights to Beat Tesla and Google
We want to ship a product by the end of the year that people will be able to install in their own cars and it will give them more self-driving capability than the Tesla today. – George Hotz
George Hotz’s pitch is that he can build self-driving car algorithms faster and better than any carmaker or even Google.
“Google is going to ship by the end of 2020? We’re actually making this stuff work,” said Hotz, who’s wearing jeans and a black hoodie with a large white comma on the front for his new company, Comma.ai.
Since he revealed his ambitions in a Bloomberg Businessweek article published last December, Hotz has attracted plenty of attention. The CEOs of Delphi, a major auto parts supplier, and Nvidia, maker of graphics processing units, have paid visits to his basement office at the “Crypto Castle,” a three-story house located in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood and occupied by some of the city’s Bitcoin entrepreneurs.
He’s generated enough excitement to score an unannounced seed investment from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz that values Hotz’s tiny, fledgling company at $20 million, according to sources.
Hotz began Comma last October and he’s well past the lone-hacker-in-the-basement stage. Yunus Saatchi, who has a PhD from the University of Cambridge in artificial intelligence, has joined as chief machine learning officer. Saatchi was a colleague of Hotz’s at Vicarious, a San Francisco-based AI startup with $72 million in financing from investors like Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Jake Smith, a roommate of Hotz’s in the Crypto Castle who is involved in the Bitcoin community, is head of operations. And Elizabeth Stark, another prominent fixture in the Bitcoin startup world, is Comma’s legal advisor. (They’re all wearing Comma.ai shirts when I meet them.) Hotz plans to hire around eight people total in the coming three months. He’s looking for people in machine learning and consumer hardware.
Hotz is also starting work on what will become the company’s first product — a self-driving kit that car owners will be able to purchase directly from Comma to equip their vehicles with autonomous driving capabilities. He hasn’t come close to working out the details of what this product will ultimately look like, but he said it might be a dash cam that plugs into the on-board diagnostics 2 port, which gives access to the car’s internal systems and is found in most cars made after 1996. It will provide cars with ADAS features, like lane-keeping assistance and emergency breaking.
“We believe our killer app is traffic,” Hotz said. “Humans are bad at traffic. We can make something that drives super-humanly smooth through traffic.”
Hotz said he won’t be able to turn every car into a semi-autonomous vehicle. At a minimum, the car will have to have anti-locking brakes and power steering. He’s hoping Comma’s product will work most with the five top-selling cars in the United States. – Aaron Tilley
Tuesday 29th March 2016
Things Are Progressing So Amazingly Fast
If I compare AI to what it was like when I first learned about it in 1971 or 1972 when I was a kid, it’s astounding what we can do now.
Self-driving cars on the streets, every game no matter how hard has master level AI players, major funds are trading billions of dollars using AIs, diseases diagnosed by editing genomes according to patterns determined by AIs. It’s incredible. I look at the news everyday and it reads like science fiction did when I was a kid. – Ben Goertzel
Sunday 24th April 2016
George Hotz Scores $3.1m Investment for Self-Driving Car Startup Comma.ai
Comma hopes to sell road-worthy consumers car-automation ‘conversion kits’ for less than $1,000
Comma, has received $3.1m from well-known investment firm Andreessen Horowitz to make conversion kits that turn normal cars into semi-self-driving cars. Hotz plans to start selling these by the end of the year for Honda, Acura and potentially other brands.
For many consumers, automated vehicles still feel like science fiction and the province of giant research labs at Google, Uber and General Motors (GM). But there’s increasing evidence that many drivers’ first interaction with a self-driving vehicle will be one engineered by a small startup. Some of these companies are making automated public shuttles, or exploring ways to make existing cars autonomous in certain circumstances.
“We are going to win self-driving cars,” Hotz said in a recent interview. “The bar is low.”
That might seem like bold talk from a twentysomething who quit his day job at an artificial intelligence company last summer. But Hotz isn’t shy of attention. He recently challenged Tesla founder Elon Musk to a race to build the first vehicle that can navigate San Francisco’s tourist-packed Golden Gate Bridge on its own.
“I think we can maybe build better self-driving cars,” Hotz says. “He can build a better rocket.”
George Hotz’s Elon Musk dartboard (Photo credit: Chad McClymonds)
When asked what he would do with his new venture funds, Hotz said he would focus on hiring the best machine-learning programmers he could find. “Who I really want to hire is 20 more copies of me,” he says.
In December, Hotz made a name for himself when he showed Bloomberg Businessweek how he made an Acura drive itself down the highway. Hotz had hacked the car’s onboard computer. He then added a camera and a radar. Suddenly, the vehicle was cruising down Bay Area freeways as Hotz sat in the driver seat, his hands not on the steering wheel.
By the end of the year, Comma wants to sell consumers car-automation conversion kits for less than $1,000. Hotz is tight-lipped about what those will involve, but they will at least require some sort of alterations to a car’s onboard computer and hardware for the car to determine what’s going on around it.
Car automation has become increasingly democratized as much of the hardware behind the technology has fallen in price and the machine-learning techniques have been open-sourced. – Danny Yadron
Saturday 18th June 2016
Elon Musk: We Are Less Than Two Years From Complete Car Autonomy
The Tesla CEO spoke at the Code Conference and predicted that we’re closer to self-driving cars than anybody thinks.
“I think we are less than two years away from complete autonomy, safer than humans, but regulations should take at least another year,” Musk said.
While many auto and tech companies–from Google to Uber and GM to Lyft and Apple to Ford–are researching and testing autonomous vehicles, Tesla seems on the verge of announcing that its Model 3 consumer sedan will have full self-driving capabilities.
Musk did not confirm that feature, but when asked multiple times on stage, he replied that there would be another Tesla event later in the year in which he would have more details.
The only thing he would say is that Tesla would do “the obvious thing”–seemingly a reference to a prior comment he made about autonomous driving being a must have feature for future vehicles. – Brian Soloman
Saturday 18th June 2016
The Driverless Truck is Coming
Improvement in ground transportation networks will represent an incredible boost to human well-being.
Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost.
Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day.
Trucking represents a considerable portion of the cost of all the goods we buy, so consumers everywhere will experience this change as lower prices and higher standards of living.
This year alone more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving trucks than in all domestic airline crashes in the last 45 years combined. At the same time, more truckdrivers were killed on the job, 835, than workers in any other occupation in the U.S.
Driverless trucking is right around the corner. The primary remaining barriers are regulatory. – Ryan Peterson
Saturday 18th June 2016
Bill Gates on AI: “The Dream Is Finally Arriving. This Is What It Was All Leading Up To.”
After years of working on the building blocks of speech recognition and computer vision, Gates said enough progress has been made to ensure that in the next 10 years there will be robots to do tasks like driving and warehouse work as well as machines that can outpace humans in certain areas of knowledge.
“The dream is finally arriving,” Gates said, speaking with wife Melinda Gates. “This is what it was all leading up to.”
Melinda Gates noted that you can tell a lot about where her husband’s interest is by the books he has been reading. “There have been a lot of AI books,” she said. – Ina Fried
Saturday 18th June 2016
The Singularity is Near
When Ray Kurzweil published The Singularity Is Near in 2006, many scoffed at his outlandish predictions.
A year before Apple launched its iPhone, Kurzweil imagined a world in which humans and computers essentially fuse, unlocking capabilities we normally see in science fiction movies.
He pointed out that as technology accelerates at an exponential rate, progress would eventually become virtually instantaneous—a singularity. Further, he predicted that as computers advanced, they would merge with other technologies, namely genomics, nanotechnology and robotics.
Today, Kurzweil’s ideas don’t seem quite so outlandish. Google’s DeepMind recently beat legendary Go world champion Lee Sedol. IBM’s Watson is expanding horizons in medicine, financial planning and even cooking. Self driving cars are expected to be on the road by 2020.
Just as Kurzweil predicted, technology seems to be accelerating faster than ever before. – Greg Satell
Monday 8th August 2016
Elon Musk Unveils Part 2 of His “Master Plan” for Tesla.
The first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion. It wasn’t all that complicated and basically consisted of:
- Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
- Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
- Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.
In short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:
1 – Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.
We can’t do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies. That they are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history.
Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together.
2 – Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
Today, Tesla addresses two relatively small segments of premium sedans and SUVs. With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck, we plan to address most of the consumer market.
In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year.
3 – Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now rather than waiting until some point in the future.
The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.
It is important to explain why we refer to Autopilot as “beta”. This is not beta software in any normal sense of the word. Every release goes through extensive internal validation before it reaches any customers. It is called beta in order to decrease complacency and indicate that it will continue to improve (Autopilot is always off by default).
Once we get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed.
4 – Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.
You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation.
Friday 30th September 2016
Singapore Blazes Self-Driving Taxi Trail
- Autonomous vehicle software start-up nuTonomy has announced that it is the first in the world to offer autonomous taxi rides. It beat Uber, which has started offering rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh
- Self-driving taxis can now be booked through an app by Grab, the biggest ride-hailing company in south-east Asia.
- NuTonomy and Grab won’t be the only providers of driverless, on-demand trips in Singapore. Last month, Delphi announced that it will provide a fleet of self-driving cars to the city-state.
Autonomous vehicle software start-up nuTonomy has made rides on its self-driving taxis available to the general public in Singapore for free, expanding a first-in-the world run that was initially invitation-only.
The Singapore trial was limited to a 2.5 square mile (6.5 square kilometre) business and residential district called One North.
NuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma said that the test area has since been doubled by the government. The approved route does not include any highways.
NuTonomy, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced that the public can now book self-driving taxis through an app by Grab, the biggest ride-hailing company in south-east Asia. The two companies announced a year-long partnership.
To book a ride passengers will have to select the ‘robo-car’ option on Grab’s app. Passengers have to be older than 18 years old, book in advance and sign a liability waiver. Rides will be free for at least two months.
“We will be combining nuTonomy’s self-driving car software with Grab’s app, with their proven fleet routing technology and their mapping capabilities,” said Iagnemma.
The cars – modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics – have a safety driver in front who is prepared to take the wheel and a researcher in the back, who watches the car’s computers.
If a pick-up or drop-off point is out of approved testing perimeters the driver will take over for the rest of the journey, Iagnemma said. “It’s an evolution to identify where are the easy parts, where are the trickier parts where we need to spend more time,” he said.
Iagnemma would not say how many rides nuTonomy provided in the trial period, but said thousands signed up for the invited trial within the first 48 hours. The company said there have been no problems and plans to make its Singapore taxi fleet fully self-driving by 2018. – The Gleaner
Friday 30th September 2016
Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars To Handle Majority Of Lyft Rides Within Only 5 Years
Lyft CEO and co-founder John Zimmer expects self-driving cars to handle the majority of Lyft’s rides within only 5 years, and all of them within only 10 years.
That means, going by Zimmer’s vision, by 2026, anytime you used Lyft to make a trip, you would be doing so in a self-driving car.
Interestingly, Zimmer also “expects” that private car ownership will “all but end” in most major US cities by 2025.
He sees a transition where driverless tech gradually increases in capability. Fixed-route autonomy would show up as early as 2017, while low-speed (under 25 MPH) autonomy on changeable routes would start as soon as 2018. Full autonomy would just be the next logical step, then. – James Ayre
Friday 30th September 2016
Chris Dixon: In 2 years Everyone Will Use Driverless Cars on Highways
Within ten years, roads will be full of driverless cars.
Maybe within two, depending on where you’re driving.
That’s what Chris Dixon, a partner at prestigious Silicon Valley investment firm Andreessen Horowitz believes.
Dixon has written extensively about the future of autonomous vehicles and invested in a number of startups in the space, from self-flying delivery drones to, a company founded by a young man who built a self-driving car in his garage.
“All of the trends we’ve been observing over the last decade — from cloud computing to cheaper processing — have hit a tipping point,” Dixon says. “This is the core that’s getting people excited about AI, and specifically around autonomous vehicles and autonomous cars.”
It’s also cheaper than ever to build a smart car. Dixon says many driverless car companies use tiny chips made by a publicly-traded company, NVIDIA. NVIDIA’s chips only cost a couple hundred dollars.
“For $200, you could get what 10 years ago was a supercomputer on a little board and put it in your car, and it can run one of these sophisticated deep learning systems,” he says.
Additionally, a lot of the AI for autonomous vehicles is open-sourced, like Google’s product TensorFlow. This allows everyone in the space to create more accurate technology faster, because they can learn from each other’s data sets and build off the findings.
” I bet in two years, it will be the norm that on the highway, you’re not driving half the time or you’ll be using driver assistants heavily,” he says.
“It’s easier on highways and in suburbs,” says Dixon. “So you can imagine pushing a button on your Uber or Lyft app, and depending on the situation and location, an autonomous car comes or a person comes.”
He adds, “When will an Uber roll up without a person in it in New York City? That’s farther away. But I think that’s more like five years away, not 20.”
Dixon likens the promise of self-driving to Henry Ford’s Model T, which was like the iPhone of the time — a real technology game changer. At first, consumer cars seemed impossible — roads weren’t paved and no one knew how to drive cars. But the product was a hit, and everything changed to make way for them. – Alyson Shontell
Wednesday 14th December 2016
Full Self-Driving Hardware Becoming Available on All Tesla Cars
This is huge news. It was just a few years ago that the sensors/cameras used on the Google cars were over $100,000 to achieve level 3 autonomy.
To have the hardware component installed on all Tesla cars (including the $35k Model 3) moving forward happened years ahead of when I feel most of us that follow autonomous vehicle tech would have imagined. From a tech perspective, this is mind-blowing news. – Nathan Wright
Musk announced that all Tesla cars being produced as of today, including the Model 3, will have everything they need onboard to achieve full Level 5 self-driving in the future.
The biggest change might be the new onboard computer that provides over 40 times the processing power of the existing Tesla hardware, which actually runs the in-house neural net the car maker has developed in order to handle processing of data inbound from the vision, sonar and radar systems.
Musk said on call discussing the most recent update to the existing driver assistance Autopilot software that it basically stretched computing power to the limit, which is why the upgraded CPU is required for full Level 5 autonomy. The new GPU is the Nvidia Titan, Musk said on the call, though it was a “tight call” between Nvidia and AMD.
The validation required for full autonomy will still take some more time, but Musk said on a call that it’s actually already looking like it’ll be at least two times as safe as human driving based on existing testing. – Darrell Etherington
Wednesday 14th December 2016
Comma.ai Shelves Self-Driving Device From US Market After Regulatory Warning
Got this in the mail today: Special Order Directed to Comma ai. First time I hear from them and they open with threats. No attempt at a dialog.
Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it.
The comma one is cancelled. comma.ai will be exploring other products and markets.
Hello from Shenzhen, China. – George Hotz
Wednesday 14th December 2016
George Hotz Open Sources the Code Behind His Self-Driving Car Project
- I think Telsa’s plan for attacking the whole problem is brilliant and going to succeed. If Telsa is the iOS, we want to be the Android. We’ll be the ones getting the 80%, we’ll be a little bit worse for a bit, but that’s kind of the plan. – George Hotz
Hotz’s Comma.ai is releasing the company’s self-driving software, as well as the plans for the necessary hardware, which Hotz calls Comma Neo. All of this code will be available for free — in fact, it is already on Github.
Hotz framed the self-driving software, called Open Pilot, as an “open source alternative to [Tesla’s] Autopilot” during a press event that was held in a San Francisco house that serves as Comma.ai’s headquarters.
He claimed that the Open Pilot and Comma Neo combination “provides almost all the same functionality as Autopilot 7,” which is the second-most-recent version of Tesla’s self-driving software.
Hotz said that Comma.ai decided to go open source in an effort to sidestep NHTSA as well as the California DMV, the latter of which he said showed up to his house on three separate occasions. “NHTSA only regulates physical products that are sold,” Hotz said. “They do not regulate open source software, which is a whole lot more like speech.”
He went on to say that “if the US government doesn’t like this [project], I’m sure there are plenty of countries that will.”
Hotz compared Open Pilot to Android, and said that it’s really aimed at “hobbyists and researchers and people who love” self-driving technology. “It’s for people who want to push the future forward”. – Sean O’Kane and Lauren Goode
Wednesday 14th December 2016
Energy Will be Essentially Free in a Few Decades
Consequently all other material needs will be satisfied without cost: food, water, shelter, transportation, communication. Every individual will thus finally be able to live independently in material abundance
Power is all around us
And we have already begun to capture it
A couple of hour’s worth of sunlight energy falling on the earth is worth about a year of global energy consumption. In short, it’s enough, and it’s basically everywhere.
If we build enough solar cells, some of the energy collected could be used for the construction of an automatic cleaning and maintenance system for the energy infrastructure.
That would give us free electricity.
Yes, I’m aware of the challenges in terms of making new kinds of efficient and sustainable, “green” solar cells, as well as making enough of them and designing a fully automated maintenance system. Just give it time.
There is at least 1000x the amount of solar energy falling on the Earth than we need. That’s a fact.
CAN we collect it? Well, plants can -and we have recently developed bionic leaves that are even more efficient. Do you think we will never improve from the current level, despite just having started? The energy is there. There is nothing in the laws of physics that says we can’t make use of a fraction of the sun’s energy for our own purposes.
There will be robots
-A myriad of robots of all sizes, taking care of us and each other
Then use the surplus energy created to power some robots to add more solar cells and build more robots. Voilà, we essentially have created a free labor force of solar powered robots.
Sure, we’ll need better robots, autonomous vehicles, robots being able to build robots, better solar cells etc., but we are getting there.
No matter what the elite wants, it won’t take long until everybody has his own solar cells and robots, or access to a pool of such resources. When? I don’t know, but very probably within half a century.
Once energy and labor are free, so will:
Water (large scale desalination is only a matter of energy input),
Food (robot-tended vertical farms with artificial light [reverse solar cells]),
Transportation (vehicles are robots and thus free as shown above; cars, planes, ships and roads will be powered, built, driven and maintained automatically in much the same way as everything else)
Communication (the easiest task of all in the scenario of free energy).
The only urgent challenge remaining will be death, and its cousin, disease.
The good thing is, with everything else free; every intelligent man, woman and child will be free to think and collaborate in order to develop the technologies necessary to prevent aging and illness. Scientists are already chipping away at the longevity problem piece by piece. – Mikael Syding